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Farewell to the Summer Squash

My squash before the invaders got it.
My squash before the invaders got it.
Squash under attack by the flea beetles.
Squash under attack by the flea beetles.

I planted squash and zucchini last summer. The plants grew so large and were big and beautiful and so were the veggies they produced, but they had no taste. In the end, they were hit by the squash vine borer and that was that….overnight, Beautiful to tasteless to dead!! I learned I had to improve my soil and rearrange my squash to take advantage of better sunlight to help it taste better and sweeter. I also learned to be on the lookout for the squash vine borer.

One great thing about a garden (besides obviously eating it) is what I learn. Nature is amazing, isn’t it? Do you ever sit back and think how everything interacts and how in the end we all (garden pests included) succumb to the “circle of life.”

This year, it seems like the minute that I finished the first yummy tomato, my fluffy squash plant full of blooms went downhill.

From far away, my squash looked great! But, when I got close, I noticed tiny black specks on the leaves. When I touched them, they jumped. I tried knocking them off with my hands and did manage to squish a few…but I had no idea that the next morning an army of them would be eating.

After a couple days of squishing, I purchased an organic pesticide to use on the squash as the beetles outnumbered me. But, after reading the warning label on the product, I decided not to use it.

Within three days, my squash was under full blown attack. To make matters worse, I had been so distracted by the flea beetles that I hadn’t even noticed the cracking of the vine at the root, which indicated my squash was already doomed by the squash vine borer. Aaaahhhhh!! I ended up pulling the squash and burning it as not to expose future crops to the borers.

You win some (tomato), you lose some (squash). However, in the end, never, ever give up…just learn and apply.

I have so much respect for those who farm for a living. I am so grateful that although I’m disappointed in my personal squash results, I can purchase some from other local farmers at Saturday flea markets and roadside stands. Next year I will till my soil really well (which can reduce the recurrence of vine borers). I also learned that guineas (yes, poultry guineas) will eat many pests….so I purchased two beautiful baby pearl guineas. I am determined to have a good crop of squash next season!! And, I look forward to introducing you to my guineas in the future.